If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m very passionate about homelessness.
Several of my previous blog posts have touched on the subject, but Insights into the Dark and Water, Water Everywhere got in-depth on this issue. Having spent time on the streets and in a shelter for a thankfully only a brief time, was enough to permanently open my eyes and my heart to a situation that will never go away but can be lessened with compassion, understanding and organization.
Once again I found myself getting very angry seeing news reports out of London where the current trend is putting spikes in areas where homeless people may seek shelter.
Their mayor has distanced himself from the issue so as to not appear anti-homeless people and not anger voters at the same time.
It’s bad enough that legislators and law enforcement want to keep the homeless out of sight, but because most folks have been seeing this for so long, they don’t even notice anymore. It’s not that they’ve turned an intentional blind eye but now we’re so conditioned that we have to force ourselves to look.
Research has shown that it’s cheaper to house the homeless than allow them to stay on the streets. The Orlando Sentinel published an article recently where their research into the situation found that it costs Florida taxpayers $31,000 per person between criminalization and hospitalization. It’s calculated that it costs $21,000 MORE per person for these people to be homeless than housed! Incredible! It’s not often that fiscal responsibility and social responsibility wind up on the same side of the argument, so why aren’t we fixing this?
The most chronically homeless are the mentally ill which are why hospitalization is chronically incurred. It’s been this way since the 80’s with President Reagan’s budget changes in mental health funding. There’s plenty of articles out there if you want to read more about it, here’s one from Salon that rather in-depth entitled Ronald Reagan’s Shameful Legacy. It gives a really comprehensive look at the timeline of events.
When the mentally ill are on the streets, un-medicated, unsupervised, their condition worsens to an alarming level. People who could live fairly normal lives with a little guidance and supervision wind up on the streets and stay there as their conditions and lives deteriorate.
Thanks to the collapse of the housing market we have more empty homes in this country since it’s inception with entire communities becoming virtual ghost towns. I recently read this article about how Detroit is selling off abandoned properties at lower prices than used cars, just to get people in them and get their communities going again.
I was delighted today however to read this uplifting article about a group called 100,000 homes. They are a grassroots group that are working with various communities to house the homeless. Their four-year campaign to complete the goal of housing 100,000 homeless people was not only reached but exceeded! 101,628 people were housed and they’re just getting started.
Check out 100,000 Homes website to find out what’s going on in your area and what you can do to help or to get help for someone you care about. It’s these groups that gather and give us hope. The problem isn’t too far gone and it’s not too overwhelming.
The majority of family, friends and neighbors live paycheck to paycheck and it’s estimated that 75% of our citizens maintain little or no savings. The loss of a job, a series of extra expenses like medical bills and car repairs can throw someone into a spiral that they can’t get out of alone.
So I’m asking… Please look. Please help. Everyone out there is someone’s son or daughter, Aunt or Uncle, Mom or Dad. Help their family as you would hope someone would help yours. Even if it’s the courtesy and respect of eye contact.
Update: Just as I was getting ready to publish this, I was blessed and overjoyed to find this amazing bit of news. This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time! Watch the video below & enjoy!